Around 3,000 years ago the indigenous societies in the Americas began planting crops that allowed them to become agricultural instead of nomadic. Maize, or corn was probably the first crop developed followed by gourds, pumpkins, peppers, beans, and potatoes. (Danzer, 5) There were several thriving civilizations south of what would become the United States. There was the Olmec who lived in the Gulf of Mexico from 1200-400 BC, the Mayan who lived in Guatemala and Yucatan peninsula from 250-900 AD, the Aztec who dominated the Valley of Mexico from 1200-1500, and the Inca who lived in South America from 1200-1500.
Several other civilizations developed in what would become the United States. The Hohokam introduced crops into the southwest, especially central Arizona, between 300 BC and 1400 AD. At the same time the Anasazi took the mesa tops and built cliff dwellings in the four corner region of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. (Danzer, 7) East of the Mississippi extending from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico lived the Adena, Hopewell, and Mississippian cultures. The Adena and Hopewell cultures built huge burial mounds filled with intricately carved crafts. (Danzer, 7) Although the Mississippian, Aztec, and Incan cultures still existed when Columbus arrived in the Caribbean, the others had all disappeared.
Your turn: Which accomplishments of these ancient civilizations do you think is the most significant?
Danzer, Gerald A., et al. The Americans. New York: McDougal Littell, 2005.